Unite members have already taken three days’ action over pensions

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Unite pickets at the Argos depot in Bridgwater

More strikes could hit Argos unless the company goes to ACAS to resolve a dispute over the closure of the final pension scheme, Unite has warned.

The union has accused the chief executive of Argos’ Home Retail Group, Terry Duddy, of hypocrisy for closing the final pension scheme, while he has amassed a pension pot of nearly £5 million, giving him an annual pension of £181,000.

Some 1,200 drivers and warehouse operatives have this week been taking three day’s strike action at Argos distribution centres in Basildon, Bridgwater, Lutterworth, Heywood in Lancashire and Castleford. They are set to return to the picket lines for a fourth day tomorrow.

UnionNews visited the picket line in Bridgwater on Friday and spoke to Unite senior rep Andy Gill.

He said: “We’ve had massive support for this strike. Everyone’s united behind the cause and I feel proud to be a shop steward. It couldn’t have gone any better. It’s quite humbling to be here today.”

Fellow picket Marie Renton told UnionNews: “The feeling here is really good. Everyone’s well-spirited – I think they’re a lot happier out here than they are in there!

“We’ve had good support from people and have stopped a load of work going out.”

Unite is fighting plans to close the final pension scheme and replace it with a money purchase scheme that could severely reduce the pensions of Argos employees.

Unite national officer Paul Davies said: “We were hoping for a last-minute breakthrough with the company before the strike started, but the management has been impervious to reason.

“Our members have gone on strike and this has caused considerable disruption to store deliveries for the company.

“We would like this dispute to go Acas, but if Argos does not agree more strikes could be on the cards, once our members have been consulted on the next moves.

“The contrast between the feathering of the pension nest by Terry Duddy and closing the final pension scheme for those that contribute to the success of the company on a daily basis smacks of hypocrisy – something a bit too common amongst Britain’s top bosses.”


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